New Zealand jumpers will be running for significantly better stakes next year.
Maiden jumps races, most of which were run for $10,000 this year, will be worth $20,000 in 2022, with restricted open stakes rising from $20,000 to $30,000 and prestige jumping races run for a minimum of $60,000.
The stakes for the Great Northern Hurdle and Steeplechase have been lifted from $125,000 to $150,000 and there will be no nomination or acceptance fees for feature jumping races.
Total stakes for jumpers will rise from $2.25m this year to $2.83m.
The stake increases have been partly funded by a generous contribution from Auckland Thoroughbred Racing (ATR), which has committed to providing $3 million over the next five years.
ATR will provide $300,000 a year, for five years, towards the jumping stakes and $1.5m towards the reconstruction of the Te Aroha racetrack, which will replace Ellerslie as New Zealand’s premier jumping venue.
“We appreciate the significant support from Auckland Thoroughbred Racing for these initiatives,” New Zealand Thoroughbred Racing (NZTR) Chief Executive Bernard Saundry said.
ATR Chairman Doug Alderslade said that while Ellerslie would no longer host jumps racing, the club believed it was important that the jumpers continued to have a place on the New Zealand racing calendar.
“The jumpers have been a valued part of Ellerslie’s history and we want jumps racing to thrive in the future,” he said.
NZTR expects to hold up to 90 jumping races next year, mostly in the North Island, with jumps racing in the South Island confined to the Grand National meeting at Riccarton Park.
NZTR will also engage with the jumps community, as the industry emerges from the Covid pandemic, to progress the following opportunities:
The creation of a Jumps Carnival – including a jumps-only day
A recruitment programme for jumps jockeys
Commence discussion on the feasibility of a Trans-Tasman Jumping Championship
Leading jumps trainer Kevin Myers described the stake increases as very good news.
“It’s not an easy game and all incentives help,” Myers said. “This means that another $580,000 will be spread amongst the owners, trainers and riders. And I’m pleased the Grand National meeting will continue.”
Te Aroha will become the key jumping venue in the northern area, once the track renovation has been completed, and the KS Browne Hurdle, McGregor Grant Steeplechase, Pakuranga Hunt Cup and the Great Northern Hurdle and Steeplechase will be staged there.
NZTR will consolidate the venues required for jumps racing to Te Aroha, Rotorua, Te Rapa, Whanganui, Awapuni, Hastings, Trentham, Hawera and Riccarton.
“On behalf of NZTR thank you to all participants for their ongoing commitment to jumps racing,” Saundry said.
“Our collective challenge must focus on increasing the number of owners, horses, and jockeys to sustain this feature of our winter racing, which has a long history that has provided entertainment and employment for thousands of New Zealanders.”
Story by NZ Racing Desk